Happy Anniversary, Mr. Trump

Over a year since Trump has come to power, and has anything really changed?

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Image: Bethany Frost
Leonie Robertshaw

The year of 2016 can certainly be seen as one of the most unpredictable in the post-war era. The rise of populism in the Western world has gained prominence, with the impact of Brexit dominating the British agenda. But it was the election of Donald Trump that arguably swung it as the most unimaginable event.

Despite the claims that the world was going to end, a year later and we are still here! With the framework of the US system, its federalist structure ensures that checks and balances are made between the institutions of government. Thus Trump hasn’t been able to exploit the power many believe a president has upon entering the White house. It still feels quite surreal that a known celebrity can just declare his intentions to run for the presidency. It seems absurd for Trump to be held in the same regard as his predecessors: Kennedy, Lincoln, Reagan and Obama, just to name a few.

What people are most astonished about is that he actually wants to implement the policies he set out in his campaign. The controversy surrounding the “Muslim ban” and deportation of nationals from countries deemed a threat to US security is what dominated the initial stages, or ‘honeymoon’ period, of the Trump administration. It appears the citizens of America thought Trump was exaggerating with this claim, aiming to sweeten the pot for those that are disillusioned with the Washington elite in the form of Hilary Clinton. However, it seems as though citizens that called Trump’s bluff are seeing the consequences with his foreign policy agenda.

Another significant event of the Trump administration has been the decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement. This unorthodox approach has cemented the presupposed view of the Trump cohort being seen as climate change deniers. A vast amount of literature shows the detrimental impact carbon emissions are having on the planet, with many experts declaring that we are already exceeding the threshold necessary to avoid the most serious consequences.

The Paris Agreement aims to limit the increase of carbon emissions to 1.5 degrees and ensure that countries cooperate to reduce their detrimental impact, especially in developing countries. Why doesn’t the US want to be involved? Being the global power that they are, the prosperity they could help bring to periphery countries located in the third world would help establish consensus and reduce the strain on relations with the Middle East. Again, this is reverted back to the idea of Trump’s egoistic approach, inevitably leading the US to be seen as an isolationist state.

An increase in mass shootings, most notably the Las Vegas massacre, has brought into question the 2nd amendment right enshrined in the codified constitution. Given this is one of the 10 fundamental principles of the bill of rights, it places constraints on any president to make radical change, even more so with Trump, who allegedly received hugely generous donations from the National Rifle Association. The fact that Trump has actually been thankful that those who have prevented further attacks have used firearms to do so, shows the state the country is in. If the supposed leader of the free world is encouraging the use of firearms, which in turn allows for citizens to act as enforcers of the law, then those determined to end the right to bear arms have a long way to go.

Moreover, reverting back to Trump’s foreign policy agenda, there have been outlandish attacks on the Middle East, thus exacerbating all pre-existing tensions (due to the America’s `special relationship` with Israel). Even more concerning is the `Cold war` feel between Trump and North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un.

Many will have observed the odd similarities between the two, in that these ideologues are obsessed with power and imposing their views on the rest of society. The somewhat stark and respectable distinction is that Trump endured the longevity of the presidential campaign in attracting reasonable support; albeit the recent allegations made about the Russian influence in the 2016 election.

There is fear of a war emerging, especially with the reluctance of China (at this time) to interfere in proceedings, and now Trump submitting to Xi Jinping by declaring that China isn’t at fault for trade relations. It is very much an egotistic battle between the leader of the free world, and the leader of the secret state. Engaging in the world of twitter has made Trump the most active president in social media, and one who hasn’t kept his cards close to his chest. ‘Fat shaming’ the North Korean leader doesn’t send a positive message to the world, especially the western hemisphere that wants to see an end to the hostility displayed by the two egoistic ideologues.

Thus, after sending shockwaves across the world in becoming the 45th President of the United States, it is still unclear what will come next for Trump. And with the possibility of being impeached and surviving only one term, the country is definitely entering unchartered waters.